Sunday, 2 September 2012

Paralympic Viewing Figures

The 2012 Paralympics is under way and the first viewing figures for Channel 4 who are showing 500 hours of coverage, are out and according to whether you are an executive for Channel 4, they are either wonderful or show that it hasn't captured the public gaze in the same way as its sister Olympic Games.
One of the highest audiences in Channel 4's history, 11 million viewers, saw Professor Stephen Hawking at the peak of the Paralympics opening ceremony, less than half of the 27 million who watched Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, on the BBC.
On the first day of competition, the largest Paralympics audience was 3.6 million, for the wheelchair basketball match between GB and Germany, again less than half than on the Olympics' first day.
The obvious reason is that while the BBC is advert free, Channel 4 which paid £9m for the Paralympic rights, is funded by advertising and although they released a statement saying that they are showing less adverts than usual, it has still managed to squeeze in the required four advert breaks a hour in the parts i have seen which i admit is nowhere near as much as i watched the Olympics.
So if we are not watching these Paralympics in the droves that watched the Olympics, why not?
Apart from the irritating advertisement breaks, some put it down to sport fatigue after a summer of sport that included not only the Olympics but the European Cup Finals and our attention spans for sport has already peaked.
Others freely admit to feeling uneasy watching disabled athletes and some put it down to no real 'superstars' to watch which i can agree with, with the exception of Oscar Pistorius and Ellie Simmonds, I would be struggling to come up with another name before the Paralympics started but i could reel off a host of athletes pre-Olympics.
The final reason is the Channel 4 coverage who despite 'borrowing' two BBC sport presenters, has been described in unflattering terms, especially the veteran Jon Snow who was widely slated for his opening ceremony commentary and the use of 'war' facts during introductions of countries rather than information about the athletes.
The number of broadcasters showing the Paralympics around the world is significantly less than that seen for the Olympics, and many are subscription television services and the newspapers are not dedicating pages and pages to the British athletes so while the profile of the Paralympics has been raised in Britain due to its home games status, and it is great that Channel 4 are averaging 2.5 million viewers a day for their Paralympic coverage, it is not firing our imaginations for some reason and that is with Team GB currently second in the medal table.


david g said...

Lucy, perhaps the Paralympics should be held at a different time of the year.

Many viewers have gorged themselves witless watching the best sports people in the world competing.

To have that followed by unfortunate people who, by accident or birth, are doing their best in sports in spite of the severe handicaps they carry, is asking a lot!

I admire their courage but I don't want to watch them. Sorry! But I'm not alone and more is the shame.

Cheezy said...

The television viewing figures for these games are looking very healthy, all things considered.

And the attendance figures at the different venues are actually phenomenal.

So, all up, this will be - by a mile - the most viewed Paralympics in history. You need to compare these figures with previous Paralympics, not previous Olympics.

No point wringing our hands and worrying that the figures are down on the main Olympic games that preceded it. Of course the figures are down on the 'main' games. It's utterly natural & normal & fine that many more people want to watch the greatest able-bodied athletes in the world, and disabled athletes not so much.

It's also a mistake to think that the games should have been held at some other time. Sheer logistics means that it's got to be held while the existing infrastructure is still in place.

And far from indicating a population that's had enough of the 'glut' of sport that we've had lately, the attendance figures suggest that many the hundreds of thousands (if not millions?) of people who are flocking to the venues are doing so partly because they failed to get a ticket to the Olympics that preceded these games.

Lucy said...

I don't know Cheezy, i imagine the C4 bosses would have been expecting higher viewing figures but credit to them for showing it anyway, apparently some countries are not showing any of it.
I do agree that it is great to see the stadium full though, there was an interview with a paralympian the other day, can't remember what sport, but she said at the event before the paralympics there was 6 people watching.

Anonymous said...

Highest tickets sales ever, Channel 4 highest day time viewing figures ever, record viewing figures at all other times. At the end of the Games this blog looks a bit miss judged! This is the year we learnt to love the Paralympics

Lucy said...

Didn't we always love the Paralympics? I know i watched it in previous years when it was on BBC2, or rather the highlights they showed. My point was that the viewing figures had dropped significantly from the Olympics and wondered why.

Cheezy said...

"the viewing figures had dropped significantly from the Olympics and wondered why"

I think it's something to do with the Olympics being the pinnacle of sport, representing the fastest/highest/longest (etc) that the human body can achieve, and having loads of famous people in it, to boot.

Cheezy said...

Bemoaning the Paralympics not getting as many viewers as the Olympics is a bit like lamenting the fact that an independent art-movie, shot in black & white, about the liberation of Guatemalan women from rural servitude in order to achieve a more modern existence in the city, doesn't earn as much at the box office as 'Avatar'.

Things need to be judged by what category they fall into. As such, the Paralympics has been a massive smashing, unprecendented success. 'Anony' is right that Channel 4 are over the moon about the games.